What is Move to Universal Credit
Some benefits are ending and most people will be asked to claim Universal Credit. You will receive a letter when you need to Move to Universal Credit.
What is Universal Credit
Universal Credit is a payment for people over 18 but under State Pension age who are on a low income or out of work. It includes support for the cost of housing, children and childcare, and financial support for people with disabilities, carers and people too ill to work. It is designed to help people both in work and out of work to get the financial support they need.
What is Move to Universal Credit
Universal Credit (UC) has been in place in Northern Ireland since 2017 for all new claims to the benefits and tax credits listed below. It’s now time to start asking people who are still getting these benefits and credits to move to Universal Credit. This is known as Move to Universal Credit or Move to UC. When you claim Universal Credit, any benefits or tax credits it replaces will stop.
- Child Tax Credits
- Working Tax Credits
- Income Support
- Income - Based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income - Related Employment & Support Allowance
- Housing Benefit (Rental)
Will Move to Universal Credit affect you
If you live in Northern Ireland and are claiming one of the benefits and credits being replaced by Universal Credit you do not need to do anything unless your circumstances change as the Department for Communities will send you a letter when it is time for you to move to Universal Credit.
The letter you will receive is called a Migration Notice letter. It will be clearly marked so that you know who it is from and will tell you that you need to make a claim to Universal Credit by a certain date. You will have 3 months from the date noted on your letter to make your claim.
When you will be asked to move to Universal Credit
People who get Working Tax Credits and Child Tax Credits (including people who get Tax Credits and Employment Support Allowance), Job Seekers Allowance (Income-Based), Income Support (Income-Related), and Housing Benefit (Rental) will be asked to move to Universal Credit by the end of March 2025.
The first group of people to be asked to move to Universal Credit in Northern Ireland are those people receiving Working Tax Credits and/or Child Tax Credits and no other benefit. The Department for Communities will start to issue Migration Notice letters from 16 October 2023.
People receiving income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) only and those receiving Employment Support Allowance with Housing Benefit will not be asked to Move to Universal Credit until 2028.
Measures have been put in place to help and support you when you first move from your current benefit or tax credits to Universal Credit. For example, when you move over to Universal Credit and your circumstances stay exactly the same the amount of money you are entitled to should stay the same.
This means that if the amount you are entitled to on Universal Credit is less than what you are getting now you will receive a top up so that your money stays the same. This is called Transitional Protection. Not everyone will be entitled to this and if your circumstances change before you make your claim, this may affect the amount you get.
You can only get Transitional Protection if you have received a Migration Notice letter from the Department for Communities and you claim Universal Credit within the three month deadline date on your letter.
If you have not received a Migration Notice letter
If you are getting an existing benefit or tax credits, you should not do anything until you receive a letter telling you it is time to make a claim to Universal Credit.
If you are thinking about making a claim to Universal Credit before you receive a Migration Notice letter, you should seek independent advice. The AdviceNI website and helpline provides free, confidential, independent advice.
You can also use a benefit calculator to check how much Universal Credit you may get. This calculator does not include:
- any transitional protection that you may receive
- any deductions for a debt
You can also check with a local benefits adviser to find out what you could be entitled to.